What is a metered connection? How to enable metered connections in Windows 10

You may have heard the term metered connections, and while their name is self-explanatory, many people do not know precisely how they work. Especially not when it comes to using such connections on computers and devices with Windows 10. In this tutorial, we explain what metered connections are and what kind of connections you can set as metered in Windows 10. We also discuss what happens when you set them that way and how to set both wireless and wired network connections as metered. There is plenty of ground to cover, so let's get started:

What is a metered connection?

A metered connection is a network connection that has a limited data usage per month or per day. If you go over its allotted amount, you may get billed extra charges. Landline phones were the first that offered this. In the modern day, metered connections are mostly used when referring to smartphones and mobile devices that have a cellular connection from a telecom provider. Most telecom providers offer monthly data plans of several gigabytes and, when you exceed the limit, they automatically charge you a tariff per megabyte. The same concept can be applied to other devices too, including tablets (with Windows, Android or iOS), hybrid devices and more. Also, wireless network connections can be metered, especially public WiFi networks that enforce all kinds of limits, including a maximum data usage per day, week or month. Sometimes, even wired (Ethernet) internet connections can be metered.

What kind of connections can be set as metered, in Windows 10?

In Windows 10, you can set any network connection as metered, not only cellular ones. For example, in the initial version of Windows 10, you could set only wireless network connections to be metered. However, since Windows 10 Creators Update was released, in the spring of 2017, you can also configure Ethernet connections as metered.

What happens in Windows 10, when a network connection is set as metered?

When you set your active network connection as metered in Windows 10, the following things happen:

  • Windows Update stops downloading most updates. Only the critical ones are automatically downloaded and installed. Instead, you get a Download button which you can use when you want to install all the updates.
  • Apps from the Microsoft Store are no longer automatically updated. However, desktop apps act as usual and are updated based on their settings.
  • App tiles on the Start Menu may not update themselves automatically. The Windows 10 apps that have live tiles on the Start Menu might not update themselves while connected to a metered connection.
  • The peer-to-peer download of Windows updates is disabled. As long as you connect to a metered network, Windows 10 stops delivering updates in the background, through peer-to-peer connections. This feature is also called Windows Update Delivery Optimization, and Windows 10 turns it off when you use metered connections.
  • Apps may behave differently. Depending on the apps that you are using, some may stop downloading data in the background or update their data less often. For example, OneDrive stops automatically synchronizing your files in the background, to save on bandwidth costs. This behavior varies from app to app, depending on how it was programmed, and does not apply to desktop apps which should work as usual.

How to set a wireless network connection as metered, in Windows 10

If you connect to a wireless network which you want to set as metered, open the Settings app. Then, click or tap Network & Internet and go to Wi-Fi.

The Network & Internet category from Windows 10 Settings

In the Wi-Fi section, you can see the active wireless network connection. Click or tap on its name.

NOTE: At this step, if you are not already connected to a wireless network, you cannot continue until you connect to a network.

The Wi-Fi section from the Windows 10 Settings

Then, you see a summary of all the settings and properties of the wireless network that you are connected to. Look for the Metered connection section.

The Metered connection settings from Windows 10

Set the "Set as metered connection" switch to On.

Setting a Wi-Fi connection as metered

Later, if you want to no longer set this wireless network connection as metered, follow the same procedure and turn the "Set as metered connection" switch to Off. Furthermore, you can also configure Data usage limits for your metered connection, so that you make sure that you do not overstep your monthly traffic. To see what apps consume the most bandwidth and configure Data usage, read this article: Identify which apps use the most data on your Windows 10 PC or device.

How to set a wired network connection as metered, in Windows 10

This feature is available only if you are using Windows 10 Creators Update or higher. Earlier versions of Windows 10 do not offer it. If you have connected to an Ethernet connection that is metered or you want to set as metered, open the Settings app. Then, click or tap Network & Internet and go to Ethernet. Then, click or tap on the connection's name.

The Ethernet section from the Windows 10 Settings

You see a summary of all the settings and properties of the network that you are connected to. Look for the Metered connection section. Set the "Set as metered connection" switch to On.

Setting an Ethernet network as metered

Later, if you want to no longer set this Ethernet network connection as metered, follow the same procedure and turn the "Set as metered connection" switch to Off. You can also set Data usage limits for your metered connection so that you do not overstep the internet traffic included in your data plan. To see what apps consume the most bandwidth and configure Data usage, read this article: Identify which apps use the most data on your Windows 10 PC or device.

Do you use metered connections on your Windows 10 computers and devices?

Now that you have arrived at the end of this guide let us know whether you use metered network connections in Windows 10. What kind of limitations are imposed on you and how easy it is for you to work with such connections in Windows 10?